Last weekend, Bates Admission took another step toward enrolling a new class, sending out Regular Decision acceptances to prospective members of the Class of 2025. 

Before long, Admission will be reviewing applications for the Class of 2026, from students whose high school experiences, since March of their sophomore year in college, have been mightily disrupted by the pandemic.

For those high schoolers who are worried that the activity section in their Common Application has taken a hit that might hurt their college-choice chances, the Bates Admission team has advice.

“The pandemic is going to affect how your activity section looks. It’s going to affect how everybody’s activities section looks,” says Assistant Dean of Admission Audrey Burns ’17. “And I think that that should be a sense of security, a sense of calm.”

Prospective students tend to believe that “the best application is going to have every single line packed. It’ll be full, with addendum. But that’s not true.” Indeed, the folks who work in Bates Admission aren’t looking for an arm-length high school brag sheet — and that’s more true than ever now, during the pandemic. 

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What’s true is that the Admission team will be “very understanding what our prospective students have endured because everyone, including the people reviewing your activities section and our families, have had their lives impacted. We know that it’s going to be different.”

Whether it’s a senior in high school applying to college, or a Bates student working with the Center for Purposeful Work to identify meaningful work interests, it’s important to communicate how one has navigated the pandemic. Actions and activities that show thoughtfulness, as opposed to quantity,  will make a strong impression.

In one’s application to college, Burns “absolutely recommends” including context about one’s activities — “how it has impacted, whether it simply did not exist this year, whether it’s changed platforms, what it looks like and how the pandemic has impacted you.”

“The activities page is not a survey. It’s where you can show your reflection and you can show your character.”

Burns’ own application to Bates included evidence of a growing interest in singing and theater — which she parlayed into four years with the a capella group The Merimanders and a double major in theater and rhetoric, including a senior thesis performance as Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“The activities page is not a survey. It’s where you can show your reflection and you can show your character. This is another place that you can really be an agent in your application.”

Burns and the Bates Admission team offer this takeaway:

Everything that you’re doing, whether it’s an organized club or helping out at home with your family with additional responsibilities, is important.

“We’re looking to see someone who has reflected on their experiences. What have you gleaned from your activities that is important to you? Why does it feel impactful? And is it something that you’re going to want to continue when you’re in college?”